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About Michelle

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I was raised in Sydenham, Ontario, attending Loughborough Public School and Sydenham High School.  During my youth my father served on Loughborough Township Council as a Councillor, Deputy Reeve and Reeve, as well as Warden of Frontenac County.  Wade Leonard, my husband, and his family have similar political roots.  Many people still recount stories to us of his grandfather, Keith Leonard’s, time on municipal council and as Warden of Frontenac County.  I am no stranger to political campaigns and I enjoy a good race!

Following high school I attended Queen’s University where I obtained my Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Classical Studies with elective courses in natural geography and political science.  I then attended the University of Windsor Faculty of Law where I obtained my Bachelor of Laws degree, graduating with the municipal law award and a certificate in mediation and dispute resolution.  I then returned home to begin my law career.

Municipal Service

While completing my articles I decided to run in the 1997 municipal election and was successful, becoming the youngest representative of Loughborough District.  I began my municipal council service by responding to the ice storm of 1998.  In a very short time I learned about the strengths of our community and the dedication of our leaders.  We made sure that no resident was left behind, even if that meant days with little sleep and meals on the run.  Our remote areas are beautiful and peaceful, but they can pose challenges when delivering services.  They are also susceptible to the effects of climate change, against which we must fight.  From this experience I began to understand the complexities of our riding and the importance of listening to residents to understand their unique needs.

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During my time on South Frontenac Township Council, I served on the committee of adjustment, planning committee and the community policing committee among others.  Each of these responsibilities taught me that understanding the unique character of our communities was critical to effectively representing my constituents.  Amalgamation was not a point in time, but rather a process that required understanding and collaboration.  Working through the consolidation of the former Townships’ Official Plans into one document was challenging, but also very rewarding.

Professional Experience

After my service on Council I focused on my family and building my own small business, a general law practice that serves residents of Kingston and the surrounding areas.  I understand the challenges faced by young parents, who must seek childcare in order to work, which in many cases involves commuting significant distances.  I can appreciate the challenges faced by small business owners, who provide employment for others while supporting their own families.  Fiscal responsibility is essential for such business owners in order to succeed and this is no different for our governments.  It is critical that our representatives understand and advocate for the financial concerns of their residents.  However, it also important that our representatives understand the complex social needs of our communities as well. 

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While operating my law practice I also provided per diem services to the Kingston and Napanee Crown Attorney’s offices.  In these roles I have witnessed youth concerns as well as mental health and addiction needs.  I understand the complexities of these societal concerns and the benefits of providing basic services and income for those who are unable to live above the poverty line.  

I also served a term as Chairperson of the local Employment Insurance Board of Referees.  During my term I learned so much about our employment insurance system, but unfortunately, I also witnessed situations when it was unable to help those in need.  By providing the most basic of assistance to those less fortunate, we as a society provide dignity, respect and hope to our fellow citizens, which has far more intrinsic value than a balance sheet can demonstrate.

Community Service

Since 2003 I have served on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit organization, The Fort Henry Guard Club of Canada Incorporated.  This organization was formed to support the Fort Henry Guard, which provides summer employment for college and university students.  In 1993 I became one of the first female Guards since Ronald L. Way formed the Guard in 1938.  I will not shy away from a challenge and I believe I can be the first female representative for the Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston riding.

I also see opportunities in challenges and my time at Fort Henry and in the Guard taught me so many valuable leadership and service industry lessons.  I learned about the value of tourism and how interconnected our communities become when we work together to promote common goals and build our economies.  I also believe in giving back to organizations that give so much to us.  Since 2016 I have served as President of the Fort Henry Guard Foundation Inc., which is a charitable organization also dedicated to supporting the Guard.  My time on the Boards of Directors for these organizations has shown me how teamwork and collaboration can move mountains.  The accomplishments of charitable and not-for-profit organizations cannot be emphasized enough and are to be valued as an integral part of our communities.

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